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Democrats Authorize Iraq War Funding to Increase Minimum Wage

CNN about the comprise between Republicans and Democrats:
Congress passed the first increase in the federal minimum wage since 1997 late Thursday as part of the measure for supplemental funds to fight the war in Iraq. The minimum wage portion of the legislation provides for a increase - over a two-year period - to $7.25 an hour from the current $5.15.
Scot W. Stevenson explains the issue of the US minimum wage in his German language Blog USA Erklärt, which was just nominated for the prestigous Grimme Online Award. Congratulations, Scot! There are several categories. Users can vote for the Publikumspreis here.

Germany does not have a statutory minimum wage, but the issue is debated. Euro 6.50-7.50 are in the discussion. The Atlantic Review wrote about it.

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alec on :

I think the problem with raising the minimum wage is that it's seen as a panacea for poverty problems. The real issue is finding or filling the gap between a reasonable minimum wage or providing basic services that otherwise can't be afford. To me, the problem isn't necessarily the wages per se but the ability to get affordable healthcare, food, and shelter from these wages. So either you have to raise minimum wage to a level where these things can be afforded (with the risk of higher unemployment rates), or you offer cheaper/free versions for people under a certain income line.

Pat Patterson on :

No benchmarks and no pull out dates but for an extra $72 billion and a raise in the minimum wage the President essentially got what he wanted. Not bad, not bad at all. Many of the left leaning sites are steaming because the funding wasn't cut off and one passage in the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 allows the President to declare a "public emergency" and thus by pass the restrictions on using US troops for internal security matters and allows the President to take over the National Guard without the governors approval. Though that power already existed as the President could "Federalize" those units. But now and before the President has to go to Congress in 60 days and explain why he acted and what he hoped to accomplish. Congress may or may not allow this declaration and seizure to stand and the President must abide by their vote.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"using US troops for internal security matters and allows the President to take over the National Guard without the governors approval." By "US troops" you mean the military, right? Not just National Guard. Is this meant to be for the upcoming Hurricane season or for terrorist attacks? I guess both...? Why is that necessary? Why does the president want this? Can't the governors continue to do it? I thought, Republicans want to give more power to the states (abortion, gay marriages) rather than take it away from them...? Anyway, in Germany there is a also a debate about using the Bundeswehr for domestic security issues. Not just for helping with floods and international summits. Of courses there is strong opposition from the left. [b]If we need the Bundeswehr for internal emergencies, we can't send more troops to international missions (like Afghanistan) that might not even advance the security interests of Germany and our allies. [/b] Both Germany and the US are concerned about terrorist attacks on their soil. Both countries want to use their military for domestic security. This means that both countries have to make sure that they don't send too many troops on international missions. The US has withdrawn most troops from the Balkans, perhaps Germany should do so as well. I know US liberals blamed the president for sending the National Guard to Iraq, which according to them resulted into the troubles with Katrina. I know that US conservatives said that there were enough National Guard troops in the area. I don't want to repeat this discussion, but would rather be interested in whether it is necessary to send less troops (not National Guard) to international missions in order to keep the Homeland protected. I guess, I am getting on everybody's nerves with my criticism of the Afghanistan mission, but perhaps Germany cannot send more troops to Afghanistan, because they are needed for domestic emergencies that could materialize in the coming weeks, months or years. As EU president and G8 president, Germany is a bigger target than it is anyway.

mbast on :

Well, there is another problem with using the Bundeswehr for internal security purposes: the constitution. According to the Grundgesetz (Art. 35) the Bundeswehr is allowed to act in cases of civil emergencies, but not to "restore the public order and security", which is the primary domain of the federal and state police forces. There were quite a few legal rows being fought over the issue of whether using the Bundeswehr for internal security is actually unconstitutional. In the end, the german constitutional court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) [url=http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/pressemitteilungen/bvg06-011.html]ruled[/url] that the Bundeswehr cannot be used for such purposes.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Yes, then the constitution has to be changed a little bit. Well, with some legal arguments, a Bundeswehr involvement can be justified without changing the constitution. The Kosovo war was considered constitutional as well, although there was no UN mandate. It is just a matter of legal arguments. Besides, the Bundeswehr would get involved within Germany, if another country invades us. Thus, (the planning of a) terrorist attack could be described as such an "invasion of hostile forces" and then the Bundeswehr involvement is justified. I am sure some lawyers can argue it that way. Other lawyers will argue against it. My point is: The Bundeswehr is supposed to provide for Germany's security. Having the Bundeswehr patrol the streets in Northern Afghanistan does not prevent terrorist attacks in Germany, but might actually motivate such attacks. In general, we need to adapt to the new security challenges. Perhaps this means, the Bundeswehr has to get the legal right to get involved domestically. Of course, there have to be all kinds of precautions and oversight and checks and balances etc. We should prepare for the worst case. If we don't, then we are not prepared for a worst case and the government will then also involve the Bundeswehr, but without proper oversight and checks and balances.

mbast on :

"Well, with some legal arguments, a Bundeswehr involvement can be justified without changing the constitution. The Kosovo war was considered constitutional as well, although there was no UN mandate. It is just a matter of legal arguments" Well, no, the legal aspect has been definitively cleared up by the constitutional court ruling, and that's final. No two ways about it. If you want to use the Bundeswehr for internal security, you have to change the constitution, period. And I'm not going to go into the can of worms [i]that[/i] would be. We're not talking about "changing the constitution a little bit" here. This would be a major legislative work, with enormous political ramifications and I'm not even sure it would actually be possible to change the constitution in that respect. "Besides, the Bundeswehr would get involved within Germany, if another country invades us." Totally different ballgame. That would be the "Verteidigungsfall", which is the very thing the Bundeswehr was conceived for. We're talking about "Wiederherstellung der öffentlichen Sicherheit und Ordnung" here. Believe you me, these are precise legal terms with very precise definitions. Not to be a smart-alec, but I do know what I'm talking about. Five years in university and three doing legal internship will teach you all about "Verwaltungsrecht", the hard way ;-). "Thus, (the planning of a) terrorist attack could be described as such an "invasion of hostile forces" and then the Bundeswehr involvement is justified. I am sure some lawyers can argue it that way. Other lawyers will argue against it." How do I put this? Errm, no, wrong actually ('Tschuldigung, Joerg). The problem is, like I said, we're talking basic constitutional and administrative law here. That's exactly what the fuss is all about: the German constitution was drawn up with one big fear: to not repeat the errors of the Weimar Republic. Thus, there are a few very, very touchy basics, the internal use of the German army as a police force being one of the touchier ones. It's difficult to explain without doing a 4 hour lecture on German administrative and constitutional law, actually. "My point is: The Bundeswehr is supposed to provide for Germany's security. Having the Bundeswehr patrol the streets in Northern Afghanistan does not prevent terrorist attacks in Germany, but might actually motivate such attacks. In general, we need to adapt to the new security challenges. Perhaps this means, the Bundeswehr has to get the legal right to get involved domestically. Of course, there have to be all kinds of precautions and oversight and checks and balances etc. We should prepare for the worst case. If we don't, then we are not prepared for a worst case and the government will then also involve the Bundeswehr, but without proper oversight and checks and balances." Das ist wie bei Radio Eriwan: "im Prinzip ja." ;-) Out-of-area operations of the Bundeswehr are a legal nightmare, actually. I think I'll write up a post about this, since we're talking legal basics without which you can't possibly even begin to understand the political, legal and historic problems Germany has with sending troops abroad. For the time being have a look at [url=http://www.jura.uni-sb.de/FB/LS/Grupp/Faelle/outofarea-loesung.htm]this[/url] . That little article will give you an idea of the legal complexity involved.

Zyme on :

"If we need the Bundeswehr for internal emergencies, we can't send more troops to international missions (like Afghanistan) that might not even advance the security interests of Germany and our allies." I disagree. Take a look at the kinds of forces deployed abroad: They are mostly infantry units supposed to errect temporary fortresses and lightly armored / non-armored mobilized infantry forces used to recon and patrol the environment. Our army would not be needed in case of a terrorist strike on the ground because of a simple reason: When the strike occurs, you need then a better experienced police used to urban matters to secure the perimeter and lots of quick and organized medical assistance. The military would be needed for another kind of strike: The kind of uprising we saw in Paris last year. When minorities or other troublemakers decide to burn our cars, destroy entire quarters and scare away the police, we have to be able to react. And in such a case, heavily armored forces invulnerable to molotov cocktails and similar "weaponry" are the best tool to seize control, since quick and decisive action is needed to re-take the initiative. Since these are not deployed in foreign countries as they might scare the population and undermine our reconstruction efforts, their deployment in Germany would not decrease our ability to keep the current units abroad. "would rather be interested in whether it is necessary to send less troops (not National Guard) to international missions in order to keep the Homeland protected." I think it is pretty clear that troops in foreign countries can only supress terrorist activities in the regions they control - and effectively only push it into other regions/countries. I mean terrorist activities are illegal pretty much everywhere, just like organized crime is. Once you take decisive action against the latter, it also simply relocates to places with less decisive action. And the western countries cannot control all potential safe spots for them by military means. Instead I believe that in many cases such action is only taken for less obvious reasons: To calm down a deeply worried and sometimes afraid public at home. And to exert direct influence in the countries you have your armies standing in. "We should prepare for the worst case. If we don't, then we are not prepared for a worst case and the government will then also involve the Bundeswehr, but without proper oversight and checks and balances." In a way yes - this would probably never happen without a legal basis at least in Germany, where everything has to be legalized first. But this could happen in a quick nightly session of both houses - and yes, then without any significant checks and balances. It is well imaginable that the federal inner ministry already has very advanced plans for such an emergency they simply have to take out of the drawer and can then take the lawmaker by surprise.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"When the strike occurs, you need then a better experienced police used to urban matters to secure the perimeter and lots of quick and organized medical assistance." You think the police is experienced? Where is that experience coming from? After the first strike, people will be concerned about an upcoming second strike. Who is preventing that? The police can't do it alone, I think. Besides, I don't know for sure, but I think many German states had to cut down the police forces in the last two decades. Whenever there is a medium sized demonstration in Berlin, police units from all over Germany have to come to Berlin. All the way from Bavaria and Westfalia etc. Since those demonstrations are planned in advance, that is not a problem, but in case of a terrorist attack, there is not time to wait for five-ten hours for police units to arrive. Besides, what if those police units are needed in Bavaria as well, since Al Qaeade prefers to strike at several places at the same time? Moreover, there is not enough coordination between police, fire departments, THW, Bundeswehr, state and federal government ministries. I think we have to wait another five years until they get the proper digital radio communication equipment. "When minorities or other troublemakers decide to burn our cars," Oh please, that's peanuts. No Bundeswehr needed for that.

Axel on :

The discussion is a bit problematic because a lot of expressions and legal concepts aren't clearly distinguished. And I'm absolutely no expert, so mbast please correct me if I'm wrong. Bundeswehr and internal emergencies ("terrorist attack") - Bundeswehr has to get the legal right to get involved domestically. You dont't need to change the consitution for this because - that was the impression I got during my military service - in a case of a severe terrorist attack like 9/11 with the plausibel danger of a "second strike" or a "ticking nuke", it's no problem for the government instantly to declare the "Verteidigungsfall" as a "Fiktive Feststellung", so they don't need majorities neither from the Bundestag nor from the Gemeinsamer Ausschuss. I don't know exactly what antiterrorism possibilities for the Bundeswehr exist in the case of "Spannungsfall", but the declaration of the "V-Fall" definitely makes it possible. It's also actually no problem for the Landesbehörden to get support from the Bundeswehr via "Amtshilfe" - think for instance of a mobile NBC reconnaissance unit with Fuchs Transportpanzer. The political debate, that's my impression, is about domestic missions of the Bundeswehr in the case of peace. This would be a serious taboo break and the debate about the Luftsicherheitsgesetz shows the enourmous problems. Nevertheless, the first think Merkel really should do in such a case is to call Helmut Schmidt...

mbast on :

"The military would be needed for another kind of strike: The kind of uprising we saw in Paris last year." Oh boy, where to start ... that kind of Bundeswehr operation is legally impossible right now (and, with overwhelming probability, in the future as well). To explain why will probably overload Joerg's message board :-). Ok, I definitely need to do a post about Bundeswehr out-of-area and internal security operations. It'll be long and it might be a little boring, but I'll try to clear up a few of the most basic basics, otherwise it'll be very difficult to have any kind of a meaningful discussion about this. It'll take me a little time to write it up, so don't hold your breath :-).

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"Ok, I definitely need to do a post about Bundeswehr out-of-area and internal security operations." Excellent! This will be topical in a few weeks as well, so no need to finish it over the holidays. Thanks!

Zyme on :

"Oh boy, where to start ... that kind of Bundeswehr operation is legally impossible right now (and, with overwhelming probability, in the future as well). To explain why will probably overload Joerg's message board :-). Ok, I definitely need to do a post about Bundeswehr out-of-area and internal security operations. It'll be long and it might be a little boring, but I'll try to clear up a few of the most basic basics, otherwise it'll be very difficult to have any kind of a meaningful discussion about this. It'll take me a little time to write it up, so don't hold your breath :-)." I was not talking about measurements legal right now (which they obviously aren´t). And I was not thinking about things which can be implemented easily into our current constitution. I was thinking about putting our army to good use within german borders. We must not let control slip away in entire neighborhoods to violent minorities. Hopefully we never reach such a constellation - but the french hoped as well. So I simply advised to prepare for the worst. Better safe than sorry, so to speak.

Pat Patterson on :

I should have said the regular armed forces as opposed to the national guard. The Posse Comitatus Act, post Civil War, denied the power to the federal government to use the regular army for internal security unless certain extreme conditions were meant, ie., insurrection or when the governor had called out his state's national guard units. After Katrina there was much criticism of the federal government for not sending regular army units to help. But the governors of those states had to officially ask for that help. Many state officials were critical of this waiting period by noting the quick response of the Coast Guard. But as usual many of these officials failed to realize that the Coast Guard had been exempted from the original Posse Comitatus Act and could be sent in to help even if the governor hadn't requested them. Yes, I think that the intent of the Congress was to allow the President to have the power to immediately order regular military units without having to wait for a particular state to request aid in an emergency situation. But it should be noted that the formerly Republican congress refused to give this power to the President but the Democrats did.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Just to add to my point about limited resources: ABC NEWS May 25, 2007: "Iraq War Takes Helicopters Needed for U.S. Disaster Missions" [url]http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/05/iraq_war_takes_.html[/url] "Arkansas National Guard can't count a single helicopter of its own in-state, although it is borrowing a few from neighbors. National Guards in Kansas, Texas and Montana report the vast majority of their helicopters are deployed out of state, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Colorado's National Guard has deployed 17 of its 20 helicopters to Iraq, leaving three to help domestic missions like fighting wildfires."

Pat Patterson on :

Joerg-You should have read at least some of the comments in the link, at least before they became a shouting match, to see the reference to the fact that all of this equipment is on loan to the states to begin with. The downsizing of the military was begun under the first President Bush and continued through President Clinton. But the idea was to augment the capablity of the National Guard was to increase federal funding, training and equipment. The various administrations and congress wanted to claim to be reducing the size of the military but wanted to keep access to ready reserves in case the worst happened. Plus many in Washington saw much political gain in the number of units their state had. The mission of the National Guard is primarily to serve as a quick source of trained men and equipment in time of war or national emergency. In the early days of WWII the bulk of US casualties in the Pacific were from guard units from California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Idaho. Many of these units arrived in The Philippines with Springfields that hadn't been fired since 1918 and French 75's with limited amounts of shells. But an odd bit of trivia is that many of the least fit guardsman survived their initial captivity because their bodies had extra fat. One other reason concerning the tight hold that federal authorities have over National Guard units was that during the 50's and 60's the governors of some states used them to enforce segregation laws. In Little Rock Arkansas the Arkansas units were so unreliable and hostile to the black students that Eisenhower seized control and sent them home. The 101st was then sent in to provide security for the student attempting to desegregate Little Rock High School.

David on :

Yes, President Bush got his war escalation funding and can gloat. Bush, McCain and the handful of remaining True Believers can now celebrate the surge in flag-draped caskets sent home from Iraq as a result of the escalation. But on this Memorial Day weekend most Americans are reflecting on the wasted lives and destroyed families caused by Bush's war. Andrew Bacevich is a retired Lt.Colonel in the US Army who fought in Vietnam. He has been a vocal critic of Bush's war policy. Last week he lost his son in Bush's Iraq War. His [url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/25/AR2007052502032.html]essay[/url] in todays Washington Post is worth reading. Here is an excerpt: "The people have spoken, and nothing of substance has changed. The November 2006 midterm elections signified an unambiguous repudiation of the policies that landed us in our present predicament. But half a year later, the war continues, with no end in sight. Indeed, by sending more troops to Iraq (and by extending the tours of those, like my son, who were already there), Bush has signaled his complete disregard for what was once quaintly referred to as "the will of the people."

Axel on :

Andrew Bacevich, a self-professed conservative, West Point graduate, Vietnam veteran, former Bush Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, and actually professor of international relations at Boston University has also written a remarkable book: The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Oxford University Press, 2005)

Pat Patterson on :

The President also represents "the will of the people" via his reelection in 2004. The Congress changed hands in 2006 and the new Congress supposedly elected to change Iraq policy has simply failed to do so. As I keep trying to remind people the US is not a parliamentary democracy and the President can and has represented the minority party. He does not have to accede to the demands of Congress unless Congress acts in the majority and has a veto proof majority at that. One could actually argue that the current Democratic ruled Congress has failed "the will of the people" for not exercising its constitutional powers and simply cut off funding as it did in 1975.

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